People counting using an overhead fisheye camera
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As climate change concerns grow, the reduction of energy consumption is seen as one of many potential solutions. In the US, a considerable amount of energy is wasted in commercial buildings due to sub-optimal heating, ventilation and air conditioning that operate with no knowledge of the occupancy level in various rooms and open areas. In this thesis, I develop an approach to passive occupancy estimation that does not require occupants to carry any type of beacon, but instead uses an overhead camera with fisheye lens (360 by 180 degree field of view). The difficulty with fisheye images is that occupants may appear not only in the upright position, but also upside-down, horizontally and diagonally, and thus algorithms developed for typical side-mounted, standard-lens cameras tend to fail. As the top-performing people detection algorithms today use deep learning, a logical step would be to develop and train a new neural-network model. However, there exist no large fisheye-image datasets with person annotations to facilitate training a new model. Therefore, I developed two people-counting methods that leverage YOLO (version 3), a state-of-the-art object detection method trained on standard datasets. In one approach, YOLO is applied to 24 rotated and highly-overlapping windows, and the results are post-processed to produce a people count. In the other approach, regions of interest are first extracted via background subtraction and only windows that include such regions are supplied to YOLO and post-processed. I carried out extensive experimental evaluation of both algorithms and showed their superior performance compared to a benchmark method.